Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Turtle Life Part 4: Winter Months

You are a COLD baby turtle!
You and your sisters have hatched in your nest, and now position yourselves with your tail down and your head up.  Here, you wait.  You still have some yolk attached to your belly on the inside of your shell.  This yolk is all your nourishment until spring.   As proceeds, leaves turn colors, then drop off the trees above your nests.  Days grow shorter, nights grow longer, and winter approaches.  The temperature inside your dark nest begin to fall, your heart rate and metabolism really slow down.  Snow that falls above the nest acts as an insulating barrier to the cold.  Still, your shallow nest, and subsequently your own body temperature, drops below freezing.  Your body is specially adapted to withstand subzero temperatures.  Your body can “supercool” which means it can stay unfrozen in temperatures below freezing.  Even if it gets colder, parts of your body can freeze- mostly the liquid outside of your cells.  You are one of the few vertebrate animals on earth that can survive with your body temperature so cold.  However, the winter is still a dangerous time.  If it drops too cold, you may not be able to make it.  However, all you can do now is hope mom’s nest was in a place that is well enough insulated from the cold, that you won’t freeze to death.  You  can’t wait for the spring thaw and your first glimpse of daylight.

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